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Will she be able to confront her past, learn to move on, and learn to love herself?
Riley is stuck —in a job she hates, a toxic relationship, and in life. She knows the relationship is bad for her, but she also can’t seem to let her go. After catching her girlfriend cheating, again, she finds comfort at her favorite bar, with her best friend by her side.
After punching someone in the face and meeting a mysteriously gorgeous bartender, Riley thinks things may be changing. Sawyer is adventurous, sexy, and confident— all the things Riley yearns to be. And a sunrise motorcycle ride starts to give her hope that things can change.
When she suddenly gets a phone call from her brother, she discovers her estranged mother is dying. After almost a decade of silence, she’s forced to return to her small homophobic hometown, say goodbye, and confront her demons.
“Wanna dance?” We both turn and see a greasy guy at least twice our age. I bask in the audacity of men.
“NO THANKS!” I shout back over the loud music.
He ignores me and starts grinding on Luna’s ass and her eyes almost pop out of her head. She politely tries to move away but he follows her, keeping his body pinned to hers. Luna mouths ‘help’ so I try to pull her away.
“WE DON’T WANNA DANCE!” I yell at the guy. What the hell is wrong with men?
He either doesn’t hear me or he doesn’t seem to care because he grabs Luna’s other arm. She tries to get out of his grasp and he just laughs, enjoying her squirming. I turn to face this guy now. He’s barely an inch taller than me, with sweat stains under his armpits and oily black hair.
“We said NO! Now let go of my friend.” I am nose to nose with this guy and he still doesn’t let go.
“What are you going to do about it?” He laughs, and I can smell the onions he had for dinner on his breath.
Without hesitating, I take a step back as if I’m going to walk away before turning around at the last second and punching him square in the jaw. He stumbles backward, surprised by my strength and action. He falls to the ground, the crowd backing up to avoid catching him. He looks stunned for a moment before he looks angry.
I grab Luna’s hand and try to maneuver out of the crowd. We need to get out of here as fast as we can. Let me just say trying to run through a crowd of people, wearing heels, while half-drunk, and pulling your fully drunk best friend on your arm is not an easy feat.
I turn back to see if he’s still following us, giving me a second to catch my breath. He’s still halfway across the club but he seems to be looking for us, so I hold on tighter to Luna and pull her toward the exit. Only when I feel the cool breeze on my bare legs do I feel safe. We walk to get out of the way of people to where we can take a second to breathe.
“Dude, are you okay?” Luna’s eyes are wide and that’s when I finally realize the impact of my punch. My fist is starting to swell and my knuckles are quickly turning purple; only now do I feel how bad that hurt.
“Jeez, I wouldn’t wanna be on the other end of that hand.” The voice comes from next to us and I look up curiously.
A woman about our age is leaning against the brick wall smoking a cigarette, looking like something out of a magazine. She’s wearing tight dark jeans and a low cut opened floral button-down. Her blonde hair is slicked back like Danny Zuko from Grease. She’s gorgeous. Where did she come from?
“They had it coming,” I mumbled instantly, losing my confidence.
“They did,” Luna confirms. I try to flex my fist and wince in pain. Shit, did I break something?
“Want some ice?” The mystery woman puts out her cigarette and motions for us to follow her.
I look at Luna and we both shrug, following the woman into the side entrance of Puzzles.
Unexpected Departure was a quick and enjoyable story about confronting your past, and learning to love and stand up for yourself. There was a wonderful friendship and a promising sapphic romance around the corner, but also a lot of homophobia and a toxic relationship, so please check the trigger warnings before reading.
Read my full review here: Unexpected Departure by Shannon O’Connor
About the author
Shannon O’Connor is a twenty-something, bisexual, self-published poet of several books and counting. She released her first novel, Electric Love in 2021 and is currently working on several sapphic romance novels. She believes there is a lack of positive Female/Female romances in the world, and wants to make them more accessible. She is often found in coffee shops, probably writing about someone she shouldn’t be.
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